Yep, I’m still alive and kickin’. Sorry for the absence, but I’ve been preoccupied with my health. Perhaps some of you can empathize. For those who can’t, I’d recommend Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Now where was I with this blog before I so rudely interrupted myself? Well, I plum forgot, but I am back to thinking about the game and even going to the range when the temp here in the Northwest gets above 40. How am I hitting the ball, given my plethora of ongoing ailments? Lousy. In fact for the first time in my life I’ve run into a bout with the shanks. I’ve scoured YouTube for solutions, talked to buddies, chanted incantations, repositioned my Brazilian crystals. re-embraced religion, and arranged a meeting with the Devil, with my attorney present.
After all has been said and done, the shanks are still with me, but in the words of the Buddha (or some such sage), “When entering Hell, don’t stop.” I was hoping to write this boomerang blog post as a remedy for the shanks, but, alas, I will leave that to the hapless teaching pros out there who deal with Borderline golf cases who are just one swing away from giving up this godforsaken game forever.
Actually, I’m here to talk about…Jordan Spieth. I feel for the guy. Everytime I look at him, I see what this cruel, masochistic game is doing to this fine young man. Here was a chap who, in his first six years as a pro, won 14 times, including three majors. During that time, he had established himself as one of the greatest putters in the game. He was PGA Rookie of the Year in 2013, PGA Tour Player of the Year in 2015, PGA Tour leading money winner in 2015, FedEx Cup Champion in 2015, and Vardon Trophy winner in 2015 and 2017, also winning the Byron Nelson award in both of those years. If not for his young age of 26, he could stop now and be voted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
But you look at Jordan, who missed the cut at Phoenix, and he has that hangdog look that reminds me of me after a bad round. That look offers a glimpse into his mind. He’s hurting. He’s a bit ashamed of his performances. He’s a bit disappointed, and perhaps somewhat angry, knowing he’s capable of better play. Competitive golf is very tough in that regard. You’re on display, especially someone like Jordan. Yes, he still makes a zillion bucks, but that’s not what drives Spieth at this point in his career. He takes pride in his accomplishments, and well he should. Golf is a tough, demanding game. But with those accolades and trophies come expectations, both within and from his fans.
Jordan, I wish you well, young man, as you continue your golf journey. So far, you’ve stumbled but are still on your feet. In my recovery, I strive to return to a state of a mental and physical condition I once knew; but maybe that’s not quite the approach to take. As with Tiger’s comeback, perhaps you need to acknowledge that changes and adaptations must be made. The body and mind erode like an ancient canyon with the wear and tear of age and competition (Remember Wee Bobby Jones!). Take some time off and inventory what’s broken and how to go about fixing it. Or just take a break, kick back, and let the answers bubble up from inside. Given your talent and dedication, those answers are surely there.
As for the distance debate and the increased length of courses over the past hundred years or so, I have a couple of suggestions. For competitive golf, put some restrictions on the golf ball and perhaps the size and trampoline effect of drivers. For recreational golf, have more tee box choices and label them by color only. Take away the stigma of “Senior” or “Women” tees, and just let the golfer choose how much of an advantage he or she needs off the tee to have fun with the game. What does that mean? It means choosing the tee box that gives the golfer a reasonable chance, with irons/hybrids), to reach a par 4 or par 5 green in regulation. A respectable drive and a fairway wood to a par 4 green is no fun at all.
And let the golf course developers knock themselves out around length. After all, they are private enterprises and are limited by the amount of acreage they have to work with. But make sure they add more tee box choices than they now have. As a side benefit, judicious tee box placements can help speed play.
That’s it for now, folks. Keep swingin’. Heck, when I was 17, in February, I’d wear three sweatshirts and play in the ice and snow at Cobbs Creek in Philly! Ball would roll a mile!